Prostitution and sex trafficking are well-documented problems in Hartford, including homicide of prostituted women and infants endangered during prostitution transactions. Historians have documented a thriving “red light” district in the 1800s and early 1900s, illegal but tolerated and connected to a variety of crimes and other problems such as infectious disease.
The city has a relatively long history of addressing demand for commercial sex. The Hartford Police Department began conducting reverse stings in 1980, and routinely both seize the vehicles and publicize the identities of arrested sex buyers. In July 2015, for example, HPD officers conducted a street-level reversal using a female police decoy. In an interview with WVIT-TV following the investigation, a HPD representative commented that anti-prostitution efforts have at times been launched in city areas where other recent violent crimes were reported, to not only reduce commercial sex activity but also gather information from arrestees. He noted:
“Rarely do we do any of these operations where they’re not in the area of a recent homicide. Every person we bring in, we will debrief and try to find out any information we can on recent shootings, homicides, robberies, burglaries, anything. I can think of a few homicides in recent years that we’ve gotten valuable information to move forward with an arrest through one of these prostitution details.”
The city first launched its first john school in 2000. In addition to attending the john school, men processed through the Community Court may also have “dear john letters” sent to their homes and be required to perform community service.
The current john school program in Hartford is named “The John Protocol” and is operated by the Community Court (State of Connecticut, Judicial Branchand) its key partner, AIDS Project Hartford. In addition to handling prostitution cases within the Hartford Judicial District, the Community Court also presides over cases of those who are charged with soliciting prostitutes for their services. The Community Court developed the “John Protocol” not only to punish the perpetrators, but also to educate them about the impact their behavior has on their health and the community. The program is delivered in six sessions. Its main topics focus on individual and community level health consequences, and other negative consequences for individuals directly involved as well as to the broader community. The protocol also requires 10 days up to community service. An excerpt from a Community Court Newsletter describes the local version of a john school as follows:
“Throughout the years, one of the most consistent complaints from the community is street prostitution. For the most part, it is a drug-driven enterprise with numerous associated health, criminal and public-safety factors that fuel an exacerbating effect on the deterioration of neighborhoods. One of the primary problems behind this issue is the men who come here to solicit the prostitutes, known in common parlance as “johns.” The bottom line is solicitation of a prostitute is a crime and will be handled as such in Community Court. It is also an issue of public health and education. For those reasons, the Community Court has been working in collaboration with AIDS Project Hartford to develop a six-session program where each “john” must attend a one hour counseling session with APH Health Educator John Olivares once a week for six weeks at the Community Court. They must also submit to Sexually Transmitted Disease testing (HIV testing is voluntary for the participant). Since implementing this protocol in late 2009, the Community Court has not seen one recidivist from the protocol.”
- Hartford Police Department
- Community Court (State of Connecticut, Judicial Branch)
- AIDS Project Hartford
- End Demand Connecticut
- National Assessment Survey
- John School and Community Service:
- Evaluation of the Hartford Community Court, Report, The Justice Education Center, Inc., December 2002.
- “Mr. Vaughan Cuts a Deal”, Hartford Courant, August 25 2004.
- “Full-Court Press Awaits Vaughan”, Hartford Courant, August 26 2004.
- “Teaching Old Johns ‘No New Tricks”, American City and Country, November 1 2009.
- Spring 2011 News & Updates, State of Connecticut Judicial Branch Community Court Session at Hartford, 2011.
- Reverse Stings:
- “Prostitution Sting Leads to 13 Arrests”, Meriden Record-Journal, July 24 1994.
- “Police Urged to Fight Against Prostitution”, Hartford Courant, August 2 1994.
- “Hartford Police News”, Hartford Courant, April 29 1995.
- “Police Arrest 6 Men in Prostitution Crackdown”, Hartford Courant, October 24 1995.
- “12 Arrested on Prostitution Charges”, Hartford Courant, November 2 1995.
- “City Police Arrest 10 in Lunchtime Prostitution Sting”, Hartford Courant, May 8 1996.
- “Hartford Police News”, Hartford Courant, October 18 1996.
- “Nine Facing Charges Related to Prostitution”, Hartford Courant, November 16 1996.
- “Police Arrest 25 Men in Prostitution Sting”, Hartford Courant, April 5 1997.
- “Female Police Officer’s Role Was Key to Sting’s Success”, Hartford Courant, April 8 1997.
- “Officer Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Hartford Courant, December 13 1998.
- “15 People Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Hartford Courant, August 21 1999.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 4”, Hartford Courant, November 3 2000.
- “Police Look into Dead Man’s Past”, Hartford Courant, February 11 2003.
- “Brothel Clients Face Charges; Police May Arrest Many More”, Hartford Courant, March 31 2004.
- “Basketball Coach Arrested in Sex Sting”, Hartford Courant, August 19 2004.
- “Sex Sting Results in Multiple Arrests; Undercover Operation Follows Complaints about Prostitution”, Hartford Courant, February 4 2005.
- “Prostitution Charges Filed; Undercover Police Officers Arrest 25 Men in Sting”, Hartford Courant, September 9 2005.
- “Seven Men Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Hartford Courant, December 25 2009.
- “10 Arrested in Hartford Prostitution Sting”, Hartford Courant, March 19 2010.
- “Hartford Police Charge Six in Prostitution Sting”, Hartford Courant, May 16 2011.
- “7 Busted in Reverse Prostitution Sting”, WTNH-TV 8, August 24 2012.
- “Hartford Police Make Undercover Prostitution Bust,” NBC/WVIT-TV 30, July 23 2015.
- “Group Puts Pressure on Prostitutes’ Johns”, Hartford Courant, April 7 1992.
- “‘Scarlet Ledger’ Campaign; Group to Continue Publicizing Clients of Escort Service”, Hartford Courant, May 12 1992.
- “The Law in Her Hands; West Hartford’s Marjorie Wilder Has a Reputation as Being Both Tough and Fair”, Hartford Courant, September 25 1994.
- Auto Seizure:
- “Hartford Police Seizing Cars from Suspected Johns”, New London Day, December 3 1992.
- “Price of a Prostitute: The Client’s Car”, New York Times, December 4 1992.
- “Man Arrested in Prostitution Crackdown Challenges Seizure of Car”, Hartford Courant, December 17 1992.
- “Will Seizing Johns’ Cars Stall ‘World’s Oldest Profession’?”, Hartford Courant, January 19 1993.
- “Judge Orders Car Returned in Hartford Prostitution Sting”, Hartford Courant, February 11 1993.
- “Law Aimed at ‘Johns’ Would Take Their Cars”, Hartford Courant, May 21 1993.
- “Cars Driven by ‘Johns’ Face Getting the Hook Under New Knopp Law”, Norwalk Hour, October 1 1993.
- “Owners of Seized Cars Have Their Day in Court”, Hartford Courant, October 27 1993.
- “Law Letting Police Seize Johns’ Cars Has Had Only Minimal Success Rate”, New London Day, October 10 1994.
- “Seizing Johns’ Cars a Hassle for Police”, Hartford Courant, November 11 1996.
- “Car Seizure Law Defective as Deterrent to Prostitution’, New London Day, November 12 1996.
- Neighborhood Action:
- https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/group puts pressure on prostitutes johns (1992)
- “Protesters Targeting Johns in War Against Prostitution”, Reading Eagle, June 27 1993.
- “Residents Oppose Bill Easing Prostitution Law”, Norwalk Hour, February 23 1994.
- “Rally Follows Arrests of Prostitutes, Not Patrons”, Hartford Courant, February 26 1996.
- “Group Takes Aim at Prostitution”, Hartford Courant, June 19 1996.
- “Group Wants to Put Focus on Prostitution”, Hartford Courant, August 22 1996.
- “Another Round in the Prostitution Battle; City Police Officials and Residents Discuss Legislative Bill That’s Tougher on Customers”, Hartford Courant, March 27 1997.
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “United States v. Dennis Paris, Brian Forbes, Shanaya Hicks et al”, Case Review, U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Connecticut and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.
- “10 Accused of Running Sex Ring; 56-Count U.S. Indictment Alleges Men Held Women Captive”, Hartford Courant, March 24 2006.
- “Guilty Plea in Prostitution Case; One of the Ringleaders of a Violent, Interstate Business Faces More than 20 Years in Prison”, Hartford Courant, August 23 2006.
- “In Our Towns”, Hartford Courant, November 18 2006.
- “In Our Towns”, Hartford Courant, March 6 2008.
- “An Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Leading Brutal Sex Trafficking Ring”, Conservative Crusader, October 28 2008.
- “Sex Trafficking of Americans: The Girls Next Door’, Vanity Fair, May 24 2011.
- “Connecticut’s Prostitution Problem”, Hartford Advocate, June 7 2011.
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Cops Seek Link to Third Murder”, Norwalk Hour, July 7 1978.
- “Living ‘the Life’, a Living Death; Streets of Despair, Addiction, Prostitution and the Spector of AIDS”, Hartford Courant, January 19 1992.
- “$20 Sex for a $20 Bag; Streets of Despair, Addiction, Prostitution and the Spector of AIDS”, Hartford Courant, January 21 1992.
- “A Prostitute’s Tale of Police Abuse”, Hartford Courant, January 24 1999.
- “Suspect Arrested in 1997 Stabbing Death, Police Announce Warrants in Second Homicide”, Hartford Courant, March 19 2003.
- Background of Prostitution in the Area:
- “Editorial: And What Is to Be Done About this Scourge?”, Hartford Courant, January 26 1992.
- “Woman Faces Impersonation Charges”, Hartford Courant, April 20 1994.
- “Five Facing Charges Related to Prostitution”, Hartford Courant, October 11 1995.
- “Prostitution Arrests Prompt Criticism; Police Accused of Protecting Johns”, Hartford Courant, February 20 1996.
- “Illegal Escort Service Alleged”, Hartford Courant, April 21 1998.
- “Alpha Club Remains in Operation But Neighbors Still Objecting to Its Presence”, Hartford Courant, September 8 1998.
- “Another Hartford Cop Accused; 2 Caught in Prostitution Sting Say Officer Touched Them”, Hartford Courant, June 12 1999.
- “Hartford Sergeant Convicted of Federal Civil Rights Charges”, Meriden Record-Journal, June 24 2000.
- “School of Hope; A Court Class Attacks Drugs and Prostitution”, Hartford Courant, December 28 2002.
- “Editorial: Don’t Let the Johns Off the Hook”, Hartford Courant, March 24 2004.
- “Reformers Eye-Opening 1913 Look at Brothels and Prostitutes”, Hartford Courant, April 29 2014.
- https://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-br-hartford-prostitution-drug-bust (2018)
- https://www.wtnh.com/news/connecticut/hartford/13-arrests-made-in-undercover-drugs-prostitution-operation-in-hartford (2018)
- https://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_addressing_the_why_in_sex_trafficking/ (2017)
- Child Endangerment:
- “Police Arrest Suspected Prostitutes and Pimp; The Woman’s Manager Had an Infant Child with Him, Police Said”, NBC/WVIT-TV 30, October 22 2013.